Village of Wilmette President and Board of Trustees met September 26.
Village of Wilmette President and Board of Trustees met September 26.
Here is the minutes provided by the Board:
The Village President called the meeting to order at 7:31 p.m.
1.0 Roll Call
Trustees Julie Wolf
Stephen M. Leonard
President Bob Bielinski
Absent Daniel E. Sullivan, Jr.
Staff Present: Timothy J. Frenzer, Village Manager
Michael Braiman, Assistant Village Manager
Jeffrey M. Stein, Corporation Counsel
Barbara Hirsch, Deputy Village Clerk
John Prejzner, Assistant Director of Administrative Services
Lisa Roberts, Director of Community Development
Daniel Manis, Village Engineer
Jorge Cruz, Assistant Village Engineer
2.0 Public Comment
Kate Gjaia, 325 Central Avenue, said she is Co-President of the League of Women Voters of the Village of Wilmette. Today was National Voter Registration Day which is a single day of field, technology and media efforts to make sure that everyone has the right to vote. The League had nine pop up locations throughout the community to register voters and answer their questions. She said the League of Women Voters is also pleased that the Village Board has charged the Finance Committee with further study of the issues of the Cook County minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances on November 13, 2017.
Marilee Cole, 822 Central Avenue, urged the Village Board to reconsider their decision regarding the Cook County minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances.
President Bielinski said The Communicator that will be available shortly, has an article from him regarding his reasons and rationale for voting to opt out of the Cook County minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances.
Jeff Axelrod, 631 Central Avenue, said he was concerned about the Village’s continued effort to poach businesses from other communities and the decision to opt out of the Cook County minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances. He noted he is collecting signatures from residents who are unhappy with the vote and residents are also displaying yard signs. He is also concerned about conflicts of interest with some of the Village Board members who voted to create laws in order to skirt Cook County’s benefits. He believes some of the Village Board may have financial ties to local businesses that could color their decisions. He is also concerned with conflict of interest in the recent discussion of bypassing due process in sending variance requests directly to the Land Use Committee which is currently chaired by a local real estate developer who does business in Wilmette. That Committee like all the Village Committees, meets outside the public scrutiny of the video broadcasting recording.
President Bielinski said every Land Use Committee recommendation has and will continue to come to the Village Board for discussion.
Mr. Axelrod said he must have misunderstood.
President Bielinski asked Mr. Axelrod why he is trying to harm the business community by organizing boycotts.
Mr. Axelrod said he has created an honor roll for businesses that are voluntarily willing to opt in to the Cook County ordinances regarding minimum wage and paid sick leave.
President Bielinski asked if it is Mr. Axelrod’s suggestion that residents patronize businesses that are on his honor roll but not patronize businesses that are not on his honor roll.
Mr. Axelrod said he makes no suggestions but people want to know that businesses that they go to are paying fair wages and providing paid sick leave.
Trustee Kurzman said he believes we should receive Mr. Axelrod’s perspective and respond when he is finished.
President Bielinski said he has never seen people pulling national style politics with misleading comments into the Village of Wilmette before and he finds it very upsetting.
Mr. Axelrod said he participated in a Historic Walking Tour recently and it reminded him that there is a proud, long history of successful businesses in Wilmette. It was a welcome distraction from the greed and exploitation that he has been witnessing recently. He would like to look forward to change.
President Bielinski apologized for losing his cool but he did not feel he could sit idly by and listen to what he believes to be inaccuracies and also it was quite upsetting to hear a personal attack on a Village Trustee.
3.0 Consent Agenda
Trustee Kurzman asked to remove items 3.5 and 3.6.
Trustee Wolf moved approval of the remaining items of the Consent Agenda as follows:
3.1 Approval of minutes of the Regular Board meeting held September 12, 2017.
3.2 Approval of minutes of the Committee-of-the-Whole meeting held August 28, 2017.
Land Use Committee Consent Agenda :
3.3 Presentation of minutes of the Appearance Review Commission meeting held August 7, 2017.
3.4 Appointment of Land Use Committee as a Special Zoning Committee to review front yard fence regulations for properties that adjoin Lake Michigan.
3.7 Adoption of Ordinance #2017-O-53 approving a request for a 206.21 square foot (8.59%) front yard impervious surface coverage variation to permit the retention of a patio and walk on the legal non-conforming property at 112 Lawndale Avenue in accordance with the plans submitted.
3.8 Adoption of Ordinance #2017-O-54 approving a request for a 2.5’ fence height variation to permit the construction of a 6.5’ tall fence in the front yard at 1006 Michigan Avenue in accordance with the plans submitted.
3.9 Zoning Board of Appeals Report, Case #2017-Z-35, 1334 Wilmette Avenue regarding a request for a 23.71’ front yard air conditioner condenser setback variation to permit the retention of two air conditioners in accordance with the plans submitted; adoption of Ordinance #2017-O-56.
3.10 Zoning Board of Appeals Report, Case #2017-Z-37, 1215 Washington Avenue regarding a request for a special use for medical/dental clinic, small (React Physical Therapy) in accordance with the plans submitted. The use shall run with the use; adoption of Ordinance #2017-O-57.
Finance Committee Consent Agenda:
3.11 Presentation of June, July and August 2017 Monthly Financial Reports.
3.12 Introduction of Ordinance #2017-O-58 authorizing the issuance of not to exceed $10,000,000 General Obligation Bonds, Series 2017A and not to exceed $4,000,000 General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2017B.
Administration Committee Consent Agenda:
3.13 Approval of contract in the amount of $82,202 with Tyler Technologies, Inc., Dallas, TX for annual licensing and support services for the Tyler MUNIS municipal software application.
Municipal Services Committee Consent Agenda:
3.14 Approval of contract amendment in the amount not to exceed $10,575 with Baxter & Woodman, Consulting Engineers, Chicago, IL for engineering permit review and inspection services.
3.15 Approval of contract amendment in the amount of $20,000 with Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd, Rosemont, IL for additional design services associated with the 2018 MFT Road and Alley Programs.
3.16 Adoption of Ordinance #2017-O-45 authorizing the disposal of surplus personal property owned by the Village of Wilmette.
Public Safety Committee Consent Agenda:
3.17 Approval of contract in the amount of $369,837 with Motorola, Inc., Chicago, IL for the purchase of STARCOM radios.
3.18 Approval of three-year contract extension with North Shore Towing, Evanston, IL to supply towing services for the Village of Wilmette.
3.19 Approval of contract extension in the amount of $69,410 with J.G. Uniforms, Chicago, IL to supply uniform equipment for the Police and Fire Departments.
3.20 Approval of contract in the amount of $23,455.83 with D&B Power Associates, Inc., St. Charles, IL for the emergency purchase and installation of an uninterruptable power supply for the 9-1-1 Communication’s Center.
3.21 Adoption of Ordinance #2017-O-51 amending the Village Code, Chapters 13 and 19 regarding the licensing of taxi cabs.
Judiciary Committee Consent Agenda:
3.22 Presentation of minutes of the Judiciary Committee meeting held February 14, 2017.
3.23 Introduction of Ordinance #2017-O-55 making a technical correction to the hours of operation for a Class G liquor license in the Village of Wilmette.
3.24 Introduction of Ordinance #2017-O-60 amending Chapter One of the Village Code in regards to the General Penalty.
Trustee Plunkett seconded the motion. Voting yes: Trustees Wolf, Sullivan, Plunkett, Dodd, Kurzman, Leonard and President Bielinski. Voting no: none. The motion carried.
4.0 Reports of Officers:
4.1 Proclamation designating October 2017 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
President Bielinski read aloud the Proclamation.
Viki Rivkin said she is a Wilmette resident and also a member of staff at SHALVA, which offers a safe place for women to gain insight, explore options and break free of their isolation. All counseling services are free and confidential. By recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Wilmette will send a strong message that we stand with survivors of domestic abuse.
There were no reports from the Village Manager or Corporation Counsel.
5.0 Report of Liquor Control Commissioner:
6.0 Standing Committee Reports:
6.1 Land Use Standing Committee Report
3.5 Appointment of Land Use Committee as a Special Zoning Committee to review the Village Board vote requirements for Zoning Board of Appeals recommendations.
Trustee Leonard moved appointment of Land Use Committee as a Special Zoning Committee to review the Village Board vote requirements for Zoning Board of Appeals recommendations, seconded by Trustee Wolf.
Trustee Kurzman asked why the Village feels it is necessary to expedite the variation process for zoning.
Lisa Roberts, Assistant Director of Community Development, said the item is not about expediting the process for zoning. The issue has been raised about attendance at Zoning Board meetings by the members and because of the way the Zoning Ordinance is structured, a minimum of four positive votes is needed to get a positive recommendation. She said the reduced attendance has an impact on applicants who may choose to delay because there are fewer members at a meeting. She said if attendance cannot be increased, there may be something about the process that needs to be looked at to address the issue for residents.
Trustee Leonard said the issue of attendance at the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has been a problem. One of the things the Land Use Committee hopes to discuss is how to increase attendance, and how we can change the way to attract ZBA members.
President Bielinski said he will also send a letter to the ZBA members asking them to move priority in attending meetings up on their schedules. The ZBA meetings are important and what they do matters in the whole variation process.
Trustee Dodd said she also raised concerns about the overall ZBA process as she has received comments from concerned residents regarding how slow the zoning process is. She also received email from residents regarding a recent ZBA meeting that had to be cancelled due to attendance issues. She believes that raises concerns about how the Village handles these issues.
Trustee Kurzman asked why the Village needs a special zoning committee appointed versus just referring the issue to the Land Use Committee.
Corporation Counsel Jeffrey Stein said under the State statute and due process laws, any type of change to a Zoning Code requires a public hearing under a like zoning committee that is designated.
Village Manager Timothy Frenzer said it is part of the Village Board’s consistent past practice. The Zoning Code requires that no text amendment can be made to the Zoning Ordinance unless it has been heard by a special zoning committee in a public hearing that has to be noticed differently than a normal meeting. Historically, the Land Use Committee has handled those requests but if there is a discussion of a possible amendment to the Village Code, then we have to designate a special zoning committee.
Trustee Kurzman asked if it is always the Land Use Committee that is designated as a special zoning committee.
Mr. Frenzer said the Land Use Committee is designated as a special zoning committee approximately 90% of the time.
Mr. Stein noted that special zoning committee hearings have to be noticed through the newspaper and have different time periods.
Trustee Kurzman said he appreciated having the explanation of a special zoning committee explained in a public setting. He does not believe we should make zoning variances easier as he does not think convenience should be the priority, solving problems should be the priority, such as contributing land use expertise to a comprehensive storm water management program. He believes the Village Board should acknowledge that any engineering project will become less effect over time if we do not address land use. The Village Board is possibly on the cusp of spending millions of dollars for a needed stormwater project but we risk squandering those funds if we do not get smarter with our development practices. On the other hand, we may not be on the cusp of spending millions of dollars for a needed stormwater project. In that scenario, more prudent land use is the only way to improve the situation for residents in vulnerable neighborhoods both in the east and the west. When it comes to the west, this is the lens that he looks at emerging issues that will come before the Village Board, like Loyola expansion, Avoca Center development and several plans in the Wilmette Avenue/Ridge Road area. It is fair to wonder if the MWRD Watershed Ordinance is the only thing saving us from ourselves. He would like to pose these questions for the public’s consideration as well as his colleagues. Why are we spending time working on making it easier for residents to get through the limited zoning protections we currently have in place, shouldn’t we be more discerning? Other flood prone municipalities are removing houses so why are we still adding them? Why are we focused on zoning ordinances that seem to focus disproportionately on the highest end properties of our Village rather than addressing the needs of all Wilmette.
President Bielinski said he believed the Village’s stormwater ordinance is more strict than the MWRD’s ordinance as it addresses more properties.
Village Manager Timothy Frenzer said the Village does have a grading ordinance that applies to residential properties that is meant to address some of the concerns stated. He noted that the Village grading ordinance covers all residential properties and the MWRD watershed ordinance only covers larger properties and multi-lot developments.
Trustee Kurzman said when residents express concern about any big project, it is fair to wonder about the public trajectory about how our policy around land use has been serving the residents now in this regard. We are looking at tough decisions regarding spending $80 million in stormwater management and it would be remiss to overlook land use in how we have come to this place and how we will move forward.
All voted aye on the motion, the motion carried.
3.6 Introduction of Ordinance #2017-O-59 regarding technical amendments to the Zoning Ordinance.
Trustee Leonard introduced Ordinance #2017-O-59 regarding technical amendments to the Zoning Ordinance.
Trustee Kurzman asked if any of the technical amendments proposed in Ordinance #2017-O-59 that have bearing on the 18 properties that are potentially to be addressed though item 3.4 on this evening’s agenda, the 18 properties that will be discussed for possible fence changes.
Lisa Roberts, Assistant Director of Community Development, said the clarification of the definition of the rear lot line for lakefront properties as part of the lot area to identify where their rear lot line, is for zoning purposes and is not a change from the pre-2014 ordinance. The 2014 ordinance had some errors so staff is making the technical changes and making the language clear.
Trustee Dodd said most of the changes proposed were just technical corrections, this ordinance was not intended to be making any significant zoning changes.
6.2 Finance Standing Committee Report
6.21 Presentation of the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget.
Village Manager Timothy Frenzer said on behalf of the Village staff, he is pleased to submit to the Village Board for their review and consideration the proposed Village of Wilmette 2018 Budget, covering the Village’s fiscal year from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018.
The 2018 Budget demonstrates the Village’s strong financial position, due in large part to the cooperative work between the Village Board and Village staff. The Village continues to benefit from prudent budgeting that seeks to reduce expenses, find efficiencies and take a conservative approach to revenue projections, as well as diligent monitoring of our revenue and expenses throughout the year. Each year since 2009, the Village’s financial position has steadily improved, thanks to a series of actions that are a reflection of good governance and solid financial planning:
• Maintenance of the Village’s Aaa bond rating (Moody’s highest possible rating)
• Consistently meeting actuarially required pension contributions, despite a 440% increase in these contributions since 1997
• Reducing staffing levels while maintaining core Village services
• Approving balanced budgets and fortifying reserves – the General Fund reserve has increased since 2009 to 10.8 million, or 28% of General Fund revenues
• Revitalization of downtown Wilmette, investment in business promotion, lighting and decorative improvements in multiple business areas to help generate economic activity and sales tax revenue
• Creation of a Capital Equipment Replacement Fund (CERF) to ensure timely replacement of critical equipment without fluctuations in the property tax levy
• Limiting or avoiding increases in fees and licenses, including not increasing sewer fees since 2015, not increasing water rates for six of the last seven years, and holding the line on other fees and licenses, such as building permits (since 2014) and vehicle sticker fees (since 2009), general business license fees (since 2007), and ambulance fees (since 2008)
The FY 2018 Operating Budget maintains all Village services, provides for capital funding for critical infrastructure improvements in Village neighborhoods, wage growth will be 2.2%, no increase to the 2018 sewer fee, a 2.70% increase in the domestic water rate, and the resident’s property tax bill will remain at about 11-12% of the total bill.
Mr. Frenzer said there is a budget meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 7pm at the Village Hall. The dates for further discussion, if needed, will be announced and posted on the Village website, www.wilmette.com.
Mr. Frenzer said the proposed FY 2018 Budget is available on the Village’s website, www.wilmette.com and there are also hard copies at Village Hall. He thanked the Village’s Budget Team consisting of Assistant Village Manager Michael Braiman, Finance Director Melinda Molloy, Assistant Director of Administrative Services John Prejzner, and Assistant to the Village Manager Alex Cease.
6.3 Administration Standing Committee Report
All items listed on the Consent Agenda
6.4 Municipal Services Standing Committee Report
All items listed on the Consent Agenda
6.5 Public Safety Standing Committee Report
All items listed on the Consent Agenda
6.6 Judiciary Standing Committee Report
All items listed on the Consent Agenda
6.7 Reports from Special Committees
7.0 New Business
8.0 Matters Referred To Standing Committees
8.1 Review text amendments to the Zoning Ordinance.
8.2 Review adding group homes for private school students as a permitted or special use in the residential zoning districts.
8.3 Review Westlake Plaza Local Sign Ordinance regulations.
Trustee Wolf moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:24 p.m., seconded by Trustee Plunkett. All voted aye, the motion carried.